Just a couple quibbles. Anderson writes:
The RIAA's case is less convoluted [than Thomas']. On February 21, 2005, MediaSentry detected 1,702 songs being shared by a KaZaA user with the IP address of 188.8.131.52. The username on the account was "tereastarr@KaZaA." MediaSentry downloaded some of these songs, logged the whole event, and then sent instant messages to the account in question, warning them about copyright infringement. (These messages constitute one of the RIAA's exhibits.)
With the info in hand, the recording industry then filed a "Doe" lawsuit and obtained judicial permission to file a subpoena on Charter Communications. Charter said that the subscriber at the IP address in question, at the time in question, was one Jammie Thomas.
Fair enough, but we've seen plenty of errors creep into this process. Does the recording industry actually have any corroborating evidence?
It does. A later forensic search of Thomas' machine turned up cached browser pages showing that Thomas had used "tereastarr" as her username on EA Sports, Match.com, and Yahoo—and the screenshots to prove it are also on the RIAA's exhibit list for the case.
In addition to all the other claims, Thomas wants the MediaSentry evidence thrown out altogether, a strategy that looks more likely to succeed based on Minnesota law governing private investigators. (MediaSentry obtained no such PI licenses in the states it operated.)I disagree that Thomas' attempt to exclude the MediaSentry evidence has much chance of success. First, I have grave doubts whether the Minnesota private investigator statute even applies to activity such as that performed by MediaSentry: simply joining a p2p network and recording what it saw there. Second, it's quite a stretch to say that MediaSentry "operated" in Minnesota. MediaSentry was headquartered in Maryland, and I believe it performed its work from there -- no need to set foot in Minnesota to note that an IP address in Brainerd (Thomas' home) was offering songs on Kazaa. (Do I "operate" in Mongolia if I surf to a web site whose server is locate there?) Third, there is no exclusionary rule in federal civil cases. So, even if MediaSentry had failed to comply with Minnesota PI regulations, that would not render inadmissible the evidence it collected. More here and here.
My other quibble is over this passage:
It sounds a bit like the RIAA can't let go of its "making available==actual distribution" theory, even after a judge tossed out the first verdict against Thomas on precisely this issue.I can't deny that this whole thing is "interesting." But the labels' persistence in pressing the "making available" argument is hardly surprising, and entirely legitimate. They believe they are correct (as do I), and are making this argument (despite the fact that the court has previously rejected it) to preserve it for appeal.
This attitude is confirmed later in the filing, where the RIAA says that "an inference that a distribution actually took place may be made where a defendant has completed all necessary steps for the distribution of copyrighted sound recordings to other users on a peer-to-peer network, without license from the copyright owners." That's just a fancy way of describing the making available theory, and the fact that it's still being trotted out in the Eighth Circuit, in a retrial, is... interesting.
My quibbles aside, a very solid piece. Read the whole thing.